A Conspicuous Absence of Fathers
Polly Panda was no ordinary young girl. She was fat and she was nice. She was
happy and she was fun and she was always making the boys happy.
An iguana named Jug Jug lived with Polly. Jug Jug spent all his time on a tree
branch Polly put in her bathroom. He was not nearly as happy as Polly. In fact, he was
just plain miserable and as a result, he would bite at Polly when she came to feed him.
His bites were harmless, but it didn’t help Polly stay happy to have her beloved pet biting
What Polly didn’t know was that Jug Jug had taken to staying awake all night long
and gazing out the bathroom window, hoping the moon would talk to him.
When the boys came over, Polly would take them to see Jug Jug, but he was
always asleep during the daytime and Polly was worried about him. She could see that he
had been eating, but not very much, and if she woke him up for his dinner, he would bite
at her and go back to sleep. Polly didn’t understand about the moon because she was
always sleeping when the moon was out and she wasn’t lonely like Jug Jug.
Then Polly’s twin sisters, Yes and No, came to visit and at least one of them was
always awake, and it seemed like they used the bathroom nearly all the time. Polly loved
her sisters very much, but this visit was growing, growing entirely too long. It was
difficult to make boys happy with sisters who could never agree on anything living in
your house. And poor Jug Jug couldn’t get any sleep at all.
One day Polly realized that the boys weren’t really boys at all but young men, and
she became very confused. So she decided to talk to her sisters about her confusion.
Polly’s sister Yes said, “I envy you. You have so many men who want to be with
you and you don’t have to marry just one. I’ve been married several times now and it
never works out, even though I give them everything they want. I wish it could be like
the old days when they wanted to be with me and not get married. My life was very
And Polly’s sister No said, “Men only want one thing and they never really care
about pleasing me. Oh it’s very nice to be wanted, but you have to keep everything in
perspective and not give in to their baser instincts. Women have to be the ones to control
things or everything just falls apart.”
Then Polly’s mother called with exciting news. They all had another sister. The
sister was still very tiny, but Polly’s mother said she didn’t look a bit like Polly’s other
sisters and maybe she was going to be more like Polly.
Polly’s two older sisters went to see the new sister so they could argue about who
she looked like, but Polly just went to the pet store instead and brought home a friend for
Jug Jug and invited the boys over for a big party. Because Polly had known for a long
time that there was going to be another sister. She was just confused about what it would
mean to her life if her new sister turned out to be too much like Yes or No.
And Jug Jug, well, Jug Jug wasn’t a boy after all and her new friend was and pretty
soon Jug Jug had a confused little version of herself to listen to her relentless criticism of
daylight and its insidious erosion of higher values when the child’s father wouldn’t do it and the two of them stayed awake together late at night, waiting for the moon to address
them in a language they could understand, without the child’s father awake to muddle up
their newly transcendent affirmation and enlightenment.
It’s a beautiful sight, this waiting, thought Polly, inserted her nocturnal diaphragm,
gently closed the bathroom door so as not to interrupt Jug Jug and child in their bonding,
and frolicked with wild abandon and no concern at all for the plights of Yes, No or even
her oddly still nameless youngest sister, who was already getting used to living in a gray
In time, of course, the moon did speak. But who could have understood anyone that
old and full of contradictions?
Fiction. Modern Abstract Fables.
(First edition, hardcover with dustjacket, 524 pages, $36.50 USD.)
Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days draws from fairy tales, a condescending of a 1938 Social Studies reader for 6th grade, an 1890 handbook on marital compatibility, numerous annoying educational advancement studies, the myths and legends of third-world countries and minority peoples, pulp fiction, a history of carnival side shows, folktales, frequent conversations with Crows, Owls and a wide variety of underground inhabitants, insects and the people who collect them, Joseph Cornell, Günter Eich, Russell Edson, the French Surrealist poets, the Quay Brothers, letterpress printing, and the author’s inability to channel his imagination linearly.
Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.